Elite High Jumpers Stefanski, Hodges Square Off

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Byline: Dave Oberhelman doberhelman@dailyherald.com

State-class high jumpers Pete Stefanski of Marmion and Oshay Hodges of St. Charles North have faced each other before. They will again at the sectional and, most likely, state levels.

Saturday at Metea Valley the two seniors, each 2011 state runners-up, gave an aboveground level preview of what track and field fans can expect in another month.

Stefanski beat Hodges by the slimmest of margins, missing one jump through attempts at 6 feet, 7 inches while Hodges dropped the bar twice. Both cleared the 6-7 height and executed good if unsuccessful attempts at 6-9.

"It's always good to have competition," said Stefanski, last year's Class 2A runner-up. Marmion moves to 3A this year, and will compete at the St. Charles North sectional.

"I competed with him at (Illinois) Prep Top Times (Indoor Classic) -- which I did terrible -- and I competed with him last year," said Hodges, the 2011 Class 3A runner-up who was within an inch of his 6-8 personal best.

"He got so much better, which is good because they're in my sectional now so I like jumping against good jumpers. It'll be a good show for everybody and it motivates me to do better."

Stefanski, the Class 2A runner-up last outdoor season, propelled his body over the bar each of his three attempts at 6-9 but each time his heels clipped the bar.

"Me and my coach have just got to work on my leg kick a lot," he said. "That's what's really holding me down from the higher heights, I think. Other than that, I have the height ... I'm already up to the heights I finished at last year, so I can't ask for much more."

A specialist, Stefanski was done for the day. By the time Hodges had also tried to clear 6-9 he had already won long jump with a personal-best distance of 21 feet, 4 inches, and moved on to clinch his winning triple-jump mark of 44-6 1/2. Later he anchored the North Stars' second-place 1,600-meter relay, nearly reeling in Plainfield North's Evan Flagg down the straightaway.

Metea Valley's assistant coach recording triple jump measurements joked to Hodges that his coach, Don Spencer, might want to take him out to dinner for all the points he scored Saturday. …